Since June 2017, roaming charges have been abolished within the EU following a new regulation. Since then, citizens of all EU countries can use the internet on their smartphone on the same terms as in their home country.
While this included calls home from abroad, it did not include call from home to other EU countries. These remained expensive as they were not considered roaming.
In December last year, a new regulation was published by the European Parliament, which aims at decreasing costs of calls to other EU countries. The new regulation states that from mid-May 2019 international calls – whether via landline or mobile phone – from home to another EU country may not cost more than 19 cents per minute and text messages a maximum of 6 cents. However, the price cap applies to net prices and the respective VAT must still be added. In Germany, the gross prices are thus 23 and 7 cents.
In many cases, this is now much cheaper than before. Telephone companies that currently still charge more must now adjust them accordingly.
Phone calls within the EU are now much easier and cheaper, but you as a consumer have yet to pay attention to an important detail. These rules apply only to the so called „usage based contracts“, i. e. where international minutes or text messages are billed separately.
What does that mean specifically?
Most users, who frequently call abroad, already have special flat rates or minute deals. The price cap does not necessarily apply for these alternative rates.
If you have one of these alternative deals and it is indeed cheaper, you will of course want to keep it. However, in this case you must explicitly inform your provider. If you do not, your contract will automatically be changed to the new EU-regulated conditions after a period of two months, i. e. after July 15th, 2019.
You should therefore check exactly the conditions of your current contract and how often you actually make calls to other EU countries. If the new regulated prices are cheaper, you should request an immediate swap over. If you don’t, you will pay the old prices until July 15th, 2019.
The new regulation has also changed the scope of application. This now also includes countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), i. e. Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Switzerland, on the other hand, is not included.
Furthermore, some islands and smaller regions such as the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Andorra are also not included in the new scope.